Sure it’s an annual tradition, but if carving a jack-o-lantern on Halloween is messy business for you — what with all the smelly pumpkin innards and potential danger of poking yourself with a knife — why not outsource that job to PunkinBot?
Brian and Alex VanDiepenbos, a father-son duo from my homeland of Northern Indiana, took two months to build their first prototype, which won an Editor’s Choice Award at Detroit’s Maker Faire in 2012. Since then, they’ve been refining the design, using better materials and simplifying their set up — basically building a leaner, meaner PunkinBot.
To create the robot, team VanDiepenbos used a one-stepper motor for each axis, allowing the machine to rotate the pumpkin, swing up and down and drill in and out. Then, the designs were converted into code and inputted into PunkinBot’s computer. In tests, the gourd-gouging bot can make classic jack-o-lantern faces in about five minutes.
The carving bit does not go all the way through the pumpkin. Instead, it scrapes away the top layer for more glowing jack-o-lantern details. “The reason why you do that is because when you leave the surface flesh peeled back but the inner layer intact, the light actually glows brighter because it has nowhere to disperse to,” Alex told the Goshen News.